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Performing Piyyutim: Sephardic Music, Poetry and Spirituality

With ethnomusicologist and bandleader Samuel R. Thomas, Syrian Rabbi Joseph Dweck, and Moroccan Rabbi Gad Bouskila

part of The NEXT New York Conversation

Thursday, March 31, 2011

7:00 PM

This event is sold out, but you can watch the live video Webcast at thegreenespace.org.

Join Leonard Lopate, ethnomusicologist and bandleader Samuel R. Thomas and voices from within the Brooklyn Sephardic community for Performing Piyyutim: Sephardic Music, Poetry, and Spirituality, an exploration of Sephardic sacred poems through live musical performance and conversation. The event is presented as part of The NEXT New York Conversation series.

Today in Brooklyn, where disparate Jewish groups from the Middle East are engaging one another in an unprecedented way, the piyyut – the Hebrew term for a sacred poem – serves as an expression of a specific type of Jewish identity. Spanning five centuries since the expulsion from Spain in 1492, these piyyutim express unique conceptions of the relationship between humanity and the Divine and serve as the backbone of the quasi-classical musical traditions of different Sephardic immigrant groups who now call New York home.

Following an introductory discussion, Thomas, accompanied by his ensemble Asefa and other traditional musicians, will present a lively musical performance of Sephardic piyyutim. Intertwining musical performance with discussion, Syrian Rabbi Joseph Dweck and Moroccan Rabbi Gad Bouskila will illuminate how the intersection of Kabbalistic and Sufist thought in Sephardic cultural history inspired piyyutim.

Samuel R. Thomas
Rabbi Gad Bouskila
Rabbi Joseph Dweck 

Victor Esses, oud
Rachid Halihal, violin
Jacob Tordjman, vocals
Toby Levi, vocals
Yossi Marciano, vocals
David Buchbut, percussion
Elie Massias, vocals
Noah Jarrett, bass and guimbri
Eric Platz, drumset and doumbek
Rich Stein, percussion

The NEXT New York Conversation is made possible in part by a generous grant from MetLife Foundation.


Rabbi Gad Bouskila, Rabbi Joseph Dweck and Samuel R. Thomas

Hosted by:

Leonard Lopate